Cory Mac, Beckman Win Firebird
The day-and-a-half wait was worth it for Top Fuel driver Cory McClenathan and Funny Car driver Jack Beckman, who picked up victories Monday at the weather-delayed NHRA Arizona Nationals.
Racing was scheduled to resume with the Top Fuel and Funny Car final rounds at 10 local time Monday morning (Noon ET), but heavy rains moved through the area forcing another lengthy delay; the final rounds were run at approximately 3 p.m. local time.
McClenathan and Doug Kalitta entered the Top Fuel final with 31 career wins apiece – tied for sixth all-time in Top Fuel – and it was McClenathan and the FRAM dragster team breaking the tie with his 3.183-second pass at 316.67 to Kalitta’s 4.736 at 219.67 in the Technicoat dragster.
“The FRAM dragster has become a bracket car,” McClenathan said. “(Crew chiefs) Todd (Okuhara) and Phil (Shuler) have got the car running well enough that we know whoever we’re racing has to step up to beat us. Getting our car in stride this early is a big deal for us.”
McClenathan (201 points), whose 32 wins make him the winningest Top Fuel driver in NHRA history to have never won an NHRA Full Throttle Series championship, exits Phoenix in first place with a five-point lead over Kalitta (196).
“We lost in Pomona because we didn’t take Doug Kalitta seriously when we raced him in the semis. This time, (the FRAM crew) obviously took him seriously to run a 3.81, 316 on what was really a green track after the rain. After the run, I told Doug, ‘We weren’t taking you lightly,’ and he said, “We were throwing the whole trailer at it.’ I expect that out of (car owner) Connie Kalitta.”
In Funny Car, Beckman stymied John Force’s attempt to win back-to-back races to open the 2010 season when he powered his Valvoline/MTS Dodge Charger R/T to a 4.121 at 301.13 to easily speed past Force’s Castrol GTX High-Mileage Ford Mustang, which slowed to a 6.316 at 106.24.
“We’ve had a lot of luck against John Force and I don’t care what you say, John Force is still the man in nitro Funny Car,” said Beckman, who improved his head-to-head record vs. Force to 10-6.
Still, the 14-time champ (Force) will retain his spot atop the standings as he heads to the third of 23 races in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series, the Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals (March 11-14), with a 37-point lead over Beckman (224 to 187).
“The fan in me is so happy to see (John Force) back in top form but the racer in me was glad they weren’t perfect against us in the final,” Beckman said.
Force knew he and Beckman were in the same boat as far as dealing with a green track and there would be one winner and one loser.
“It (the track) is the same for Beckman that it is for me. At the end of the day we have been in the finals of the first two races and won one of them(50th annual Kragen O’Reilly NHRA Winteernationals). Sure we would like to win them all but I have two other good race cars also Robert Hight in Auto Club and Ashley (Force Hood) in Castrol. We are doing our job for all our sponsors Castrol, Auto Club, Ford, Mac Tools, and BrandSource,” said Force.
“It has been one of those weekends. It was very strange with all the goings on,” said Force referring to the accident in the Top Fuel ranks and the consistent rainstorms that forced the Top Fuel and Funny Cars finals to Monday.
“I am not disappointed. I am ready to move onto Gainesville (site of the NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals, March 11-14). I’ll be here (Firebird International Raceway) this weekend for the Divisional with Brittany and Courtney (his two youngest daughters) racing the A Fuel Dragsters. Then the next weekend I’ll be up at Bakersfield because I am the grand marshal for the Auto Club March Meet. I have no reason to be disappointed in myself or my team.”
The Pro Stock class completed only one round Sunday and the final three rounds were rescheduled for March 12-13 in Gainesville during the Gatornationals.
Among the more intriguing matchups when racing resumes will be defending NHRA Full Throttle Series champion Mike Edwards and the Penhall/Interstate Batteries team against three-time champion Greg Anderson and the Summit Racing team – a rematch of the season-opening final round won by Edwards.
Final finish order (1-16) for professional categories at the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. The race is the second of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
1. Cory McClenathan; 2. Doug Kalitta; 3. Morgan Lucas; 4. Steve Torrence; 5. Tony Schumacher; 6. Troy Buff; 7. David Grubnic; 8. Steven Chrisman; 9. Brandon Bernstein; 10. Andy Carter; 11. Mike Strasburg; 12. Larry Dixon; 13. Chris Karamesines; 14. Shawn Langdon; 15. Terry McMillen; 16. Antron Brown.
1. Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger; 2. John Force; 3. Tony Pedregon; 4. Robert Hight; 5. Ashley Force Hood; 6. Ron Capps; 7. Matt Hagan; 8. Jim Head; 9. Tim Wilkerson; 10. Del Worsham; 11. Bob Tasca III; 12. Cruz Pedregon; 13. Gary Densham; 14. Jeff Arend; 15. Melanie Troxel; 16. Paul Lee.
Monday’s final results from the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway. The race is the second of 23 in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
Top Fuel — Cory McClenathan, 3.813 seconds, 316.67 mph def. Doug Kalitta, 4.736 seconds, 219.47 mph.
Funny Car — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.121, 301.13 def. John Force, Ford Mustang, 6.316, 106.24.
Final round-by-round results from the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series:
ROUND ONE — Steve Torrence, 3.905, 307.58 def. Terry McMillen, 10.518, 75.14; David Grubnic, 3.843, 313.07 def. Brandon Bernstein, 3.896, 309.13; Morgan Lucas, 3.843, 315.49 def. Shawn Langdon, 6.425, 101.85; Steven Chrisman, 4.110, 288.77 def. Larry Dixon, 4.210, 305.22; Tony Schumacher, 3.824, 317.19 def. Andy Carter, 3.947, 301.81; Doug Kalitta, 3.996, 313.44 def. Chris Karamesines, 4.559, 179.44; Cory McClenathan, 3.843, 315.86 def. Mike Strasburg, 4.008, 306.40; Troy Buff, 3.999, 292.08 def. Antron Brown, DQ;
QUARTERFINALS — Kalitta, 3.986, 290.51 def. Grubnic, 4.276, 272.56; Lucas, 3.881, 303.78 def. Chrisman, 8.596, 69.13; McClenathan, 3.829, 315.27 def. Buff, 3.937, 295.27; Torrence, 3.841, 315.27 def. Schumacher, 3.837, 316.23;
SEMIFINALS — Kalitta, 3.983, 295.14 def. Lucas, 6.352, 116.55; McClenathan, 3.812, 311.70 def. Torrence, broke;
FINAL — McClenathan, 3.813, 316.67 def. Kalitta, 4.736, 219.47.
ROUND ONE — Jack Beckman, Dodge Charger, 4.132, 307.37 def. Bob Tasca III, Ford Mustang, 4.196, 299.20; Ashley Force Hood, Mustang, 4.104, 306.81 def. Melanie Troxel, Charger, 4.426, 207.05; John Force, Mustang, 4.142, 305.01 def. Cruz Pedregon, Toyota Solara, 4.201, 290.76; Tony Pedregon, Chevy Impala, 4.198, 300.06 def. Del Worsham, Solara, 4.181, 304.74; Matt Hagan, Charger, 4.307, 216.90 def. Paul Lee, Chevy Impala SS, 7.147, 92.14; Robert Hight, Mustang, 4.075, 308.99 def. Tim Wilkerson, Mustang, 4.113, 295.66; Ron Capps, Charger, 4.097, 307.65 def. Gary Densham, Impala, 4.250, 249.76; Jim Head, Solara, 4.170, 304.87 def. Jeff Arend, Solara, 4.346, 229.20;
QUARTERFINALS — Force, 4.044, 309.77 def. Head, 8.927, 79.54; T. Pedregon, 4.195, 304.05 def. Capps, 4.911, 216.06; Beckman, 4.136, 303.78 def. Hagan, 6.968, 126.84; Hight, 4.107, 302.69 def. Force Hood, 4.144, 295.01;
SEMIFINALS — Beckman, 5.023, 262.64 def. T. Pedregon, 9.335, 91.65; Force, 4.080, 309.06 def. Hight, 20.952, 36.81;
FINAL — Beckman, 4.121, 301.13 def. Force, 6.316, 106.24.
ROUND ONE — Greg Anderson, Pontiac GXP, 6.646, 207.66 def. Ronnie Humphrey, GXP, 12.898, 67.04; Greg Stanfield, GXP, 6.656, 206.29 def. Jeg Coughlin, Chevy Cobalt, 6.649, 201.31; Bob Yonke, GXP, 6.675, 205.16 def. Rickie Jones, GXP, 14.598, 58.41; Jason Line, GXP, 6.777, 207.34 def. Kurt Johnson, Cobalt, 6.909, 183.92; Allen Johnson, Dodge Avenger, 14.342, 58.30 def. Larry Morgan, Ford Mustang, broke; Rodger Brogdon, GXP, 6.652, 208.59 def. Vinnie Deceglie, Avenger, broke; Ron Krisher, Cobalt, 6.619, 208.84 def. Shane Gray, GXP, 6.697, 205.69; Mike Edwards, GXP, 6.617, 209.82 def. Warren Johnson, GXP, 6.706, 206.83;
Point standings (top 10) for NHRA professional categories following the 26th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Firebird International Raceway, the second of 23 events in the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series –
1. Cory McClenathan, 201; 2. Doug Kalitta, 196; 3. Larry Dixon, 161; 4. Tony Schumacher, 144; 5. Morgan Lucas, 108; 6. Steve Torrence, 107; 7. Troy Buff, 103; 8. Shawn Langdon, 92; 9. Antron Brown, 90; 10. Brandon Bernstein, 85.
1. John Force, 224; 2. Jack Beckman, 187; 3. Ron Capps, 148; 4. Robert Hight, 121; 5. Matt Hagan, 120; 6. (tie) Ashley Force Hood, 111; Bob Tasca III, 111; 8. Tony Pedregon, 104; 9. Del Worsham, 97; 10. Jim Head, 86.No Comment